Letter to the Editor: Dean Rob Straughan

Re: “Don’t ban phones during tests”

Letter to the Editor

I appreciate your op-ed piece on the decision to ban phones during final exams in the Williams School. I would like to point out two points in error in your piece – one small and one large.

First, the minor point. The decision to ban phones related only to final exams administered through the shared final exam process in the Williams School. Policies regarding midterm exams and those finals administered through other means (e.g., take-home finals) remain the sole discretion of the faculty member teaching the class.

More importantly, the decision to do this was not mine. It was a decision made by a vote of the Williams School faculty as a whole following a formal motion and a vigorous discussion. While the vote was not unanimous, there was a majority favoring the policy.

The varied opinions expressed and reflected in the vote are a sign of healthy faculty governance. There was clarity among those present that the Honor System remains the responsibility of the student body via the EC. At various points in our debate, faculty expressed their appreciation for the freedom the Honor System provides for both students and faculty.

In fact, I expressed to the faculty – I believe before the vote was taken – that I would be reaching out to meet with the EC to let them know of the concerns, but also of the praise for the Honor System. I did so in late August or early September, meeting first with a few EC reps and later with the full committee.

I and my colleagues appreciate the EC’s willingness to hear the thoughts of the faculty, and I appreciate your concerns about the decision as expressed in your piece.


Rob Straughan

Crawford Family Dean and Professor of Business